Daily Devotion 02 October 2020
Nehemiah 6:1-4 ‘Nehemiah foils his enemies’ plans’
1 Now when it was reported to…our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it (though up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?’ 4 They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. (read more for the full story!)
They’re pretty strong words, aren’t they? “No. I won’t come. What I’m doing is too important to leave”. And Nehemiah repeats them four times. He adamantly refuses to succumb to the invitations and threats that his enemies have designed to tempt him away from his work.
Nehemiah was a Hebrew slave in Babylon working as cupbearer to the Persian king, when he heard of the sorry state of his fellow-Jews in Jerusalem, those who had escaped captivity: “they are in great trouble and humiliation; the walls are in ruins and the gates burnt down” (Neh. 1:3). The news horrified him and he felt called to do act on it.
Nehemiah says, “I told no-one what God had put it into my heart to do for Jerusalem”. He went straight to the king of Persia and asked for permission to leave his service, so that he could return to Jerusalem to rebuild it. What an extraordinarily bold request! Jerusalem was enemy territory to the King he was enslaved to – and he was asking for permission to rebuild it! It says a lot for King Artaxerxes that the request was granted.
Under Nehemiah’s supervision the Jews performed the amazing feat of rebuilding the wall in only 52 days. Nehemiah claimed none of the credit but said, “All our enemies…and all the nations around us…perceived that this work had been accomplished by the power of our God.” (Neh: 6:16).
Nehemiah believed that God had called him to do that work; he was wholly convinced of its importance and he had absolute faith that through God’s power he would complete the task.
Isn’t that, too, just how Jesus lived and died? It would have been so much easier to give up. But he came to this earth with a God-given task that he fully believed in, and an indestructible faith that with God’s help he could succeed. Jesus ended his life on a cross – an agonising and degrading death – but thereby the glorious result was achieved, the salvation of the whole world.
God gives each of us a task. Next time the going gets tough, let’s remember Nehemiah. Let’s think, “This work is important, it’s what God wants me to do, and he’ll give me his power to complete it.” Let’s be ready to say, like Nehemiah, “No. I won’t give up. What I’m doing is too important to leave.”
Lord, as we navigate through this troubled world, thank you that you have promised to be with us, no matter what difficulties and dangers may cross our paths. May we be aware of you alongside us in all perils, problems, and persecutions that we meet. May we remain firm to the end, enable us to persevere in the tasks you ask us to undertake. In your name we pray. Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
Image © Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org.
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